TRUE STORY! 22th February 2011 (translated from the Italian)
Written by Marina Pierri
Translated from the Italian by Federica Pierino (with many thanks)
For some reason, Everett True has started to be very present in our lives recently. As you might know if you’ve ever read his Twitter posts, Truemania burst out just before Xmas and carried on with these five simultaneous events:
- the gratuitous invective against Vampire Weekend
- his advice for young aspiring music critics
- records you shouldn’t hear before you die (“records you should die before you hear”)
- Arcade Fire winning a Grammy
- Radiohead releasing a new album and (video)
It’s in these circumstances that True (in the real world, Jerry Thackray) pissed almost everybody off, writing:
- Vampire Weekend is a horrible band and its fans are stupid
- nobody’s fucking writing anything original anymore
- Sgt. Pepper by The Beatles is a horrible record
- Arcade Fire is a horrible band and its fans are stupid
- Radiohead are like Coldplay, they’re a horrible band and their fans are stupid
Of course, a lot of people have no idea who the hell Everett True is: he’s one of the most talented music journalists in the world (thank God there is an exhaustive Wikipedia page which will spare me the trouble of pouring his curriculum out!). He’s the man who, apart from everything else, founded the now defunct Plan B, one of the most interesting music magazines ever.
So, yes, his opinion is much related to listeners and although – and this is a chance that we’re still provided with – it is possible to live a life or two ignoring anything concerning this English plump musician/writer, we like to think that he’s significantly keeping on contributing to the debate on music records. Even from where he is now, in Australia, where he founded the online mag Collapse Board.
I’m reasserting that it’s very easy to live in one’s own bubble and to only hear what one wants to hear about the bands one likes, and it’s the same bubble as wherein Pitchfork, Hipster Runoff, Gorilla vs Bear, etc. live. It’s the bubble – surprise – where Everett True lives too, who clearly understood that to keep on carrying out his role as a music critic, he must start again to criticise. I myself feel bothered. I don’t know, sometimes he seems to be screaming in my ear: “DO YOU REMEMBER THAT BAND THAT MADE YOU DREAM ALL SUMMER LONG, THE BAND WHOSE SONGS YOU KNOW BY HEART ALL THE LYRICS? WELL, IT’S CRAP! AND SO ARE YOU!” which is not very nice.
The impression is that True is reacting to a new kind of verticalization of listening (somebody decides, the others adapt themselves) whose consequence is the gradual erosion of the underground in its common meaning. That’s what happens in pop charts, pop charts ‘induce’ audience to buy a certain product (i.e. if everybody’s buying Aguilera’s extraordinary latest record , they mustn’t be crazy, right? I’ll buy it too, then) though it seems to me that that is a partly horizontal movement, by contrast. Within other areas, assuming that opinion-leaders have always existed, the Internet let this selection stiffen by creating a sort of taste map strictly connected with social capital.
And here he comes, Everett, who – as an experienced journalist – attacks all the dots on the map and the social capital as well. That’s why his own point of view has nothing to do with the illegal downloading which is destroying labels and business, nor with the Net that has torn the status quo to pieces and nothing is like the good old days, and kids don’t understand. It is not a matter of old cathegories. Instead, it looks like among tens of millions of “fuck you!” he’s trying to shatter the new ones. So, I don’t think of him as an old trombone ranting – because it’s easy and convenient – against the most famous mainstrindie bands in order to take up the cause of good music: I think of him as an old trombone who realised he can and wants to take over the honour of being 3.0.
P.S. Federica informs me that “trombone” is an Italian colloquial term for describing “a person who talks a lot and steadily, but saying banalities”.